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Indian Crafts >> Lac Ornamentation
Lac Ornamentation
History of Lac Ornamentation

Lathe turners or kharadis are the traditional wood workers. They enjoy a respectable position in the community. The lacquer ware industry of Varanasi is about 400 years old. It is reported that the artisans of this craft had migrated from Udaipur in Rajasthan. They prospered in Varanasi under the patronage of the Maharaja of Kashi and millions of pilgrims who visited Varanasi as a holy city.
Fine Art
Plain Lac ornamentation of wood creating the striped patterns in resplendent blending of colours is peculiar to lacquer toys. The designs are zig zag or dana work, atishi (thin coating of tin foil) or fire, abri or cloud, nakashi etc.
Procedure
Shellac, the purified Lac, is melted on a slow heat till it turns to plastic form. Colours and wax, are slowly added with simultaneous hammering and kneading, till it achieves consistency of rubber. This paste is rolled into battis (sticks of equal length). The shellac coloured sticks are ready for use. The wood is cut into pieces of required size with the help of a hand saw depending on the size of the object to be made. It is chiselled to get a round shape. The round wood is fitted into a lathe and turned to required shape. The cracks and cavities if any in the wooden piece are filled with a fine powder of crushed pottery. The surface is smoothened by rubbing with bark of the kewra leaves. Next the coloured stick is pressed against the revolving wood. With the heat generated due to friction, the Lac melts and coats the wood irregularly. For the uniform coating and diffusion of colours, the surface is rubbed with a kewra leaf again in the revolving motion. Finally a cloth moistened with oil is rubbed against the revolving object and is polished. For metallic effects, powdered mica, tin foil mixed with glue is applied.
Resources
Basic Material : Kurria wood, shellac, powder of crushed pot.
Decorative Material : Powdered mica, pulverised tin foil, gold leaf.
Colouring Material : Natural colours, aniline dyes.
Equipments
Lathe, bow, chisel (heavy, light, pointed, narrow)
Artifacts
Jhunjuna and chusni for babies, tops, bats, balls, models of aeroplanes, rail engines, telephone sets, jumping sets, tea sets, caravans of camels and elephants, sets of musicians and sadhus of India, models of carts and animal figures, Furniture items; bed posts, cradles. Utility articles- sindoor boxes, flower vases, powder boxes.

Indian Crafts : History of Lac Ornamentation